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American Sinophobia

As America’s Sinophobia has become increasingly bipartisan, fear is starting to take on the aura of fact, and the dangers of accidental conflict with China are intensifying. Worse, by acting on these anxieties, the US risks inciting the very outcome it wants to deter: Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

NEW HAVEN – The current wave of anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States has been building for years. It started in the early 2000s, when US policymakers first raised national-security concerns about Huawei. China’s national technology champion, the market leader in developing new 5G telecommunications equipment, was accused of deploying digital backdoors that could enable Chinese espionage and cyber-attacks. US-led sanctions in 2018-19 stopped Huawei dead in its tracks.

But Huawei was just the start. The US has since spiraled into a full-blown outbreak of Sinophobia – a strong word that I don’t use lightly. The Oxford English Dictionary defines phobia as an “extreme or irrational fear or dread aroused by a particular object or circumstance.”  

Indeed, China threats now seem to be popping up everywhere. The US government has imposed export controls to cut off China’s access to advanced semiconductors – part of its concerted effort to stymie the country’s artificial-intelligence ambitions. The Department of Justice has just indicted a state-sponsored Chinese hacking group for allegedly taking aim at critical American infrastructure. Much has also been made of the purported risks of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), construction and dock-loading cranes, and now TikTok.